Is It OK to Eat After Brushing Teeth at Night? (What Experts Say)

Most of us can admit to having the occasional late-night snack after brushing our teeth and wondering if our teeth will be okay! 

The short answer is yes, but of course, it is always best to avoid eating after brushing our teeth. 

In order to properly protect your teeth, it is essential to brush your teeth after eating food – not before. 

All food naturally contains both acids and sugars that are neutralized by brushing. If you eat after brushing your teeth at night, you leave the acid and sugar to damage your teeth overnight. 

As such, it is always best to brush your teeth after you finish eating for the day. 

In this article, we will cover:

  • Exactly what happens after you brush your teeth
  • Why it is best to avoid eating food after brushing your teeth at night
  • The best ways to avoid damaging your teeth if you do decide to eat after brushing them. 

If you’re someone who wants to maintain a radiant, healthy smile, read on to find out exactly how to look after your teeth and what toothpastes dentists recommend to use! 

What Happens When You Eat After Brushing Your Teeth?

When you brush your teeth, then go to sleep, the remaining bacteria in your mouth have no choice but to go on a low-carb diet. Deprived of their favored food—carbohydrates, harmful oral bacteria, such as streptococcus mutans, multiply more slowly and produce less lactic acid. Since lactic acid dissolves tooth enamel, this is a good thing.

However, if you sneak in a snack before going to bed, especially one that contains carbs or sugar, you are essentially throwing an all-you-can-eat buffet for tooth decay-causing bacteria. Streptococcus mutans and their partner in crime, streptococcus lactobacillus, will gorge themselves, doubling their numbers every 20 minutes while producing lactic acid.

In the morning, you'll wake up with bad breath and with a fresh bio-film brimming with bacteria on your teeth.

Let's dive deeper into the reasons why it's best to avoid eating after brushing your teeth at night. By understanding the mechanisms behind the potential damage to our teeth, we can make informed decisions about our oral health.

The truth is: there’s no one single reason! 

Dilutes toothpaste effectiveness

Oral cavity naturally produces acid constantly throughout the day and night, but thankfully saliva neutralizes these acids and rinses them away in the daytime. But in the nighttime brushing helps to fight the acid. 

Brushing your teeth with toothpaste at night forms a protective layer on your teeth. 

This prevents tooth damage from occurring overnight and helps repair any damage that has occurred during the day. 

This is usually why dentists do not recommend rinsing your mouth out thoroughly after cleaning your teeth. By eating after you brush your teeth, the food and saliva wash away this protective source. 

Reduces fluoride contact time

Eating food causes us to secrete large amounts of saliva. This saliva helps us digest and also helps protect our teeth. 

However, by eating at night, we allow for large amounts of food and saliva to wash away the fluoride from toothpaste. 

Fluoride needs time to coat our teeth to protect them fully. It is therefore best to avoid eating after brushing our teeth in order for fluoride to have maximum contact time with our teeth overnight. 

Counteracts cleaning effects

It isn’t surprising that the primary reason for brushing our teeth at night is to clean them! 

Carefully brushing your teeth removes food particles that get stuck in the small crevices in your teeth. These food particles can damage our teeth by allowing bacteria to feed off them and grow. 

Brushing allows us to physically remove plaque build-up, and protect our teeth and gums from decay. 

By eating after we brush our teeth at night, we allow food particles the opportunity to stay on our teeth. This gives bacteria the sugar they need to grow overnight, and plaque can begin to form as a result. 

This not only causes damage to our teeth but can make our morning breath much worse.

May promote acid erosion

When we brush our teeth, we remove the harmful bacteria that can cause cavities and damage to our teeth. 

These bacteria feed off sugar that coats our teeth after we eat. When the bacteria feed, they create acids which then damage and weaken our teeth. 

By brushing our teeth after eating, we remove all the sugar that has built up over the day – preventing them from binding to and eroding our teeth overnight.

The acid from food itself is also diluted by toothpaste. By eating after we brush our teeth, we allow this acid to stay in contact with and damage our teeth – especially if we eat acidic food and beverages such as juice and fruits! 

Freshens breath temporarily

Brushing your teeth helps you keep your fresh breath in two ways.

Firstly, most toothpaste is flavored with flavors such as mint, orange, and cinnamon.

Secondly, brushing your teeth removes the bacteria that cause bad odor. It does this by physically removing plaque and removing the sugar that these bacteria feed off. 

By eating food after brushing your teeth at night, you wash away these pleasant scents. 

In place of this, you coat your teeth with sugar! This sugar (and any other food particles) allows bacteria to grow overnight. This results in morning breaths that no one wants. 

Minimizing Negative Effects Of Eating After Brushing If Necessary

We understand that it’s not always possible to avoid eating after brushing your teeth. 

For instance. some medical conditions such as diabetes may require people to eat small amounts of food before bed.

Most of us are also guilty of indulging in a midnight snack before bed from time to time to satisfy those cravings! 

Either way, there are a few ways you can minimize the harmful effects of eating after brushing your teeth at night! 

Choosing what foods to eat 

While all foods have the potential to damage our teeth, some foods are more harmful than others. In general, foods that are high in both sugar and acid should be avoided if possible. 

Foods to avoid include: 

  • Sweets including lollies, cake, and chocolate 
  • All carbonated drinks and sport drinks 
  • Juices including orange, grape fruit and lemon 
  • Foods high in acid such as fruits, tomatoes, berries 
  • Sticky food such as dried fruits and caramels. 
  • Sour candies 
  • Fruit yogurt

Some foods can minimize damage to your teeth overnight. 

Safer food options include:

  • Dairy Products: Dairy foods like low-sugar Greek yogurt, cheese, and milk are the best choices if you are eating after brushing your teeth. They are rich in calcium and phosphorus, which help strengthen tooth enamel. Additionally, dairy can increase saliva production, which aids in washing your mouth out of any food particles.

  • Low-Acid Vegetables: Some vegetables such as carrots and celery are the best choice for late at night. In general, vegetables are low in sugar and strong acids, whilst their high water content can dilute the acids that are present.

  • Nuts: Unsweetened nuts like almonds are a good choice as they are low in both sugar and acids.

  • Whole Grain breads and crackers: Whole-grain bread or whole-grain crackers, can be a better option than sugary snacks. They provide more nutrients and fiber without the added sugar that can contribute to tooth decay, therefore keeping you full before bed without excessive tooth damage.

Rinsing your mouth before bed 

Because eating food results in acid and sugar accumulation that can contribute to tooth damage, one of the best things to do if you are eating after you brush your teeth is to give your mouth a quick rinse! 

This will also remove small food particles that can get stuck in your teeth, remove bacteria from your mouth, and effectively help prevent cavities. 

Brushing teeth again 

Yes, brushing your teeth again can be a little tedious – but it really is the best thing to do if you are eating after brushing your teeth! 

By brushing your teeth again, you are removing the sugar and food particles that can promote bacterial growth overnight. 

You are also washing away the harmful acid and adding a protective layer over your teeth. If that's not convincing enough, brushing your teeth after eating food helps you wake up with a fresh breath!

Try Boka’s non-toxic and dentist-approved toothpaste!

It's pretty easy to convince people to brush their teeth. After all, cavities, plaque, and bad-smelling breath are not on anyone’s agenda. 

Deciding what toothpaste is best to use is another story. With so many options on the market, it can be a little overwhelming! 

Luckily, Boka has created a toothpaste that can help mitigate all the problems people face when eating after brushing their teeth. 

Our toothpaste contains nano-hydroxyapatite, which was first used by NASA astronauts who needed toothpaste to help remineralize their teeth in space. 

Broka’s innovative toothpaste helps to remineralize teeth and coat small microscopic holes in our teeth to protect them. 

The formula also helps people to avoid tooth sensitivity which can occur if we eat acidic foods after brushing our teeth at night. 

Additionally, the toothpaste is designed with ingredients to help fight bacteria that can cause morning breath when we eat after brushing our teeth at night!  

Boka’s range of fluoride-free toothpastes are also available in various flavors; think lemon lavender, orange, and watermelon. With how delicious these flavors are, they may even be the ending to those late-night cravings! 

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